It is not just bald eagles keeping an eye on the North Island.
Marine Wardens are also watching from the sky at Eagle Eye – a land-based monitoring station situated on a cliff opposite the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve.
Robson Bight Marine Warden Manager, Marie Fournier, was at the season launch event at Telegraph Cove in late June to talk about what the warden program does.
The Robson Bight Marine Warden Program, which also includes water-based monitoring and an educational component, keeps an eye on vessels and marine mammal populations, and educates boaters and kayakers about the reserve and their impacts on it.
The reserve was established in 1982 by BC Parks to protect key habitats for Northern resident killer whales, (also known as Bigg’s type), and prevent whale harassment by people.
The reserve also offers unique opportunities to conduct research, and observe whales, and serves to protect a pristine estuary, shoreline and vegetated slopes.
The reserve was designated for the protection, because this is a unique area where killer whales often come to rub their bodies along the underwater beaches. BC Parks wanted to “create a space so the whales could do these behaviours without boats around,” Fournier said, although “the beach rubbing is decreasing over the years.”
Last year, wardens on the water made contact with 170 vessels – 40 per cent were on the reserve, she said. The Warden program began in 1987.
The program was operated by Bion Research Inc. from 1991 to 1999; by Beaveridge Contracting from 2000 to 2002; and the Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Interpretive Centre Society in 2003 and 2004. Cetus Research & Conservation Society was established in January of 2005 and has operated the warden program since then.
Cetus is a non-profit, marine conservation society which operates in the waters around Alert Bay and Victoria.